The UAE really is a land of contrast, and to emphasise this, on Tuesday of our week long stay we went to the Sultanate of Oman. Oman is of course technically not part of the UAE but its own "kingdom" within this Arabia area.
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It's hard to put into words the contrast between North East Lancashire, where we have just spent a large part of our holiday, and the United Arab Emirates where we are finishing our holiday. In the words of Bruce Springsteen they are "Worlds Apart"
Well not quite "end of days", but end of our UK trip!
We managed to tag on a very rushed 1.5 days in London, and we decided to see if we could pack in as much sightseeing as possible in our 36 hours!
We arrived at Kings Cross from Skipton, a journey of approximately 3.5 hours, but it felt like we had journeyed to another country. The weather in London was actually sunny...and warm (ish!).
We hurriedly dumped our big suitcases at kings Cross baggage storage and got the tube to the Tower of London. I can't ever remember being here in the past, so we decided to explore the castle itself, until we saw the price of admission, #36 pounds each! This proved to be a recurring theme in our 36 hours, expensive admission prices.
Hurrah for the acclaimed Nikon "Fill Flash" capability which allowed me to get this shot.
By now, the sun had sunk low and it was getting cold again, reminding us we were actually still in England and not some Mediterranean city!
A quick bite to eat in Leicester square before a long trip to Kings Cross to pick up the bags and then all the way out to Heathrow to our hotel.
First stop, Buckingham Palace. The front of Buck Palace was crowded with tourists from every nation (it seemed)
I couldn't get a decent shot from the front, so I thought this shot from a slightly different angle would suffice.
This and the cost put us off, and we decided we wouldn't have time, so we jumped back on the bus.
Other than stitching a series of shots together I am not sure how to shoot this massive building and do justice to its immense scale and presence.
Anyhow, this was my miserable single shot attempt!
At last, we found a London "attraction" which was free, so we decided to go to the top...until we discovered it was 361 steps up a narrow winding path!
"No time" we convinced ourselves, and so back "on the bus" was our lazy opt out decision!
Just enough time now for a final bus tour of Westminster. I took this shot below to try and give a perspective to the hustle and bustle of Westminster.
Back to the Heathrow hotel for a quick bite to eat and an early night in readiness for our early morning flight to Dubai!
So, last Friday, April 26th we had a few hours to kill ahead of our James concert in Manchester, so we decided to visit the two iconic North West cities of Liverpool and Manchester.
I know these two cities have a history of rivalry, and it was a close run thing on this day, but I think Liverpool was slightly colder than Manchester! Both cities were bloody freezing!!
We found ourselves in Liverpool walking along the front of the river Mersey at almost 45 degrees, in order to combat the icy wind!
We decided to walk along the Mersey, around Albert Dock and to the waterfront to see the splendid old buildings along the front of the river.
Jill here is trying to get the entire Cunard Building and Liver Building into her shot.
We took advantage of a brief respite in the grey cloud cover to take these shots.
I was using the Nikon D600 and the 14-24mm UWA lens. Lots of vertical line correction in Lightroom was necessary in order to get these magnificent buildings reasonably straight.
The Nikon system did a great job, and Jill did an even better job of pretending she was smiling.
I had to poor a hot cup of tea down her after this in order to help thaw her out. I think her teeth had been fused together at this stage by the cold!
I switched to the Nikon V1 system for these Manchester shots.
This shot, with the new 6.7-13mm lens almost managed to get the entire Manchester Town hall in frame...but not quite.
I couldn't get far enough back with this V1 system to get the entire building in shot. maybe one day I will go back with a full frame system and try again?
We gave the photography up as a bad job and decided to get a hot coffee ahead of what proved to be an excellent JAMES concert at Manchester Arena.
A few months ago, Ashley our nephew surprised us all by announcing he was a father!
His new daughter was "Polly".
As it happened, our trip to the UK coincided with Polly's christening, so we were cordially invited and happily accepted. Guess who was asked to take photographs?
This time, I had the Nikon D600 with my and the excellent SB700 speed light.
Still, this was my first real chance to use the D600 on this trip. The Nikon V1 has been such an excellent tool I haven't needed the D600, until now!
Much as I like the V1 system, the image quality from this D600 combo is significantly better.
I took all of these shots on "P" mode. I used to insist on using Aperture/Shutter priority, or even manual mode, but with these modern camera I find "P" mode is so good its not necessary to worry about these camera settings now.
Apart from my sister Lynn and husband Tony, all of my UK based extended family were present, so it was a good opportunity to catch up with everyone, even if it was cold and miserable.
Finally, after a 13 year wait we got to see JAMES again in Manchester.
James have been one of our favourite bands for over 20 years, occasionally vying in our minds with Bruce Springsteen for our imaginary title of "Best Live Band".
We know they will never likely come to Australia, so we knew we had to come and see them in UK if we could make our schedule, and theirs co-incide!
The MEN arena is a lot bigger than I remember and sadly we had seats which were a long way back from the stage. My trusty Nikon V1 really struggled to get any shots at this distance with the very mixed lighting.
Tim Booth, the lead singer is like an energiser bunny, he very rarely stops dancing and jigging around...challenging indeed for photography!
Once again, the NIK Dfine noise reduction software did a great job taking the ISO noise out of these shots.
The MEN was packed to the rafters, as expected, and the Manchester crowd sang and danced throughout the whole concert, some more loudly and boisterously than others!
So, were they as good as we remembered from 13 years ago..."Yes" definitely!
Are they our favourite live band as we once thought might be the case?
Not a chance!
They don't come even close to the mighty Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band...but we had a bloody good night out and thoroughly enjoyed the gig.
I don't know what it is? I can't quiet put my finger on it?
I don't know if its the weather, the economy, the infrastructure, poor housing...but it looks to me like my home towns of Barnoldswick and Colne have been fighting a battle with all these elements...and lost!
This is not a photo from a 1920's postcard, but a photo I took in April 2013 of "Bonnie Colne on t'hill"
It really does look like this, with row upon row of terraced housing, dark slate roofs and wet cobble stone paving. I took a little bit of colour out of this picture to emphasise the grey feeling I got surveying this scene.
By all means move the school to bigger and better premises, but why leave the old building in this ramshackled state of disrepair?
It's just an eyesore now, which can be said of many of the buildings in Colne.
I spent quite a few years in my early teens trudging up and down these streets delivering newspapers on my daily paper round.
In those days the big mill was a lively vibrant community.
Not any more, another empty building left in a state of disrepair.
These houses are actually all still lived in.
Unemployment in the area is sadly quiet high and whilst walking around taking these photos I saw many people inside these houses, just passing the time of day...nothing more!
Not any more...
The train track is still used by the occasional diesel train, but like everything else, the rail infrastructure is now a shadow of its past.
The "Admiral Lord Rodney" (Simply Rodney to the locals) still operates, but I don't think it can be described as "thriving", although I'm sure its still a great place for a local pint.
Sadly, now it's empty with boarded up broken windows, a home to only the multitude of grey pigeons who seem to inhabit this area now.